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Sunday, May 1, 2016

School ISTEP+ scores on par

Sunday, October 4, 2009

During the 2008-09 academic school year, students across the state took an extra test.

The Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus (ISTEP+) was administered once during the fall and again in the spring.

Because of the changes in the test, the standards and the new spring administration, the results are notably different than prior versions of the ISTEP+, therefore it doesn't allow for a year-to-year comparisons.

"The 2009 spring ISTEP+ was a new test with new cut scores," Assistant Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction Kim Tucker said. "There is no comparison which is appropriate between the fall 2008 ISTEP+ test scores and the spring."

Only grades 3-8 were tested in the area of math and Clay Community Schools exceeded the state average of 72, with a posting of 73.1 and in English and language arts the corporation average was 68.6 and the state average was 70.8.

The schools above the state average in English and language arts and math include, Clay City Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, Jackson Township Elementary, Staunton Elementary and Van Buren Elementary. Meridian Elementary exceeded the state average in math.

Though many of the schools in the corporation are above state average there are still some that are not and many risk factors must be considered and addressed when looking at test scores.

"We cannot make excuses for ISTEP+ scores below the state average, we must keep striving to improve," Director of Curriculum and Grants Kathy Knust said. "When you look at the risk factors that we face as a community and the strides we have made as a school corporation it is obvious that our students, teachers, principals and parents are working harder than ever."

For example, the results posted by Forest Park Elementary, a school with 79 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch, show Knust and Tucker the changes made there are working.

"(FPE) is above the state average in all grades for math and English and language arts," Tucker said. "Its Title 1 school which did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) over the last two years, but is showing tremendous gains from the 2007-08 school year due to the implementation of a Response To Intervention (RTI) program last year."

According to the Indiana Department of Education during the 2007-08 school year, 49 percent of the students were on free/reduced lunch compared to the 45 percent state average. This school year 51, percent of the students are on free/reduced lunch with two elementary buildings where 78 percent and 79 percent of students are on free/reduced lunch.

With an unemployment rate that ranks Clay County 32nd out of 92 counties as of August 2009, and a median household income of $11,788 below the Indiana state average income, Knust believes it now more than ever that students need to be reached in the classrooms.

"Many of our families are struggling just to put food on the table and pay their monthly bills," she said. "It is impossible for these families to provide extra monetary support for additional tutoring and remediation beyond what we as a corporation can provide within the school day."

Even with the stress at home and the burdens many families are feeling with a tighter budgeted income, several grade levels across the corporation are posting percentages in the 80-90 range, including:


* Meridian -- 92.1 (third grade)

* Staunton -- 90.2 (fourth grade)

* Jackson -- 87 (fifth grade)

* Clay City Elementary -- 86 (sixth grade)

Language Arts

* Staunton -- 88.4 (third grade)

* Forest Park-- 86.8 (fourth grade)

* Jackson -- 84.1 (fifth grade)

* Clay City Elementary- 85.3 (sixth grade)

With a 22.5 percent special education population compared to the 17.5 percent Indiana State Average, Knust and Tucker are using it as a motivational tool to show success.

"The 5 percent increase means we must work much harder than other schools, such as Carmel where special education populations are far below the state average, in order to leave no child behind," Knust said.

"Low scores are still prevalent in the disaggregated areas of free/reduced lunch, special education and gender," Tucker added. "While these areas are also low in terms of state average (CCSC) begins to see the most serious decline for their disaggregated populations beginning in the sixth grade and continuing through the secondary program."

With the only 13.3 percent of Clay County residents with an associates or bachelor's degree compared to the 21.4 percent Indiana State average, the teachers and administrators have a rough road ahead.

"It is extremely important that we work with the schools and the community to provide students with resources and information regarding postsecondary opportunities," Knust said. "This group of students are unlikely aware of them because they will be first generation family members attempting to obtain postsecondary degrees."

In spite of the risk factors Knust and Tucker are proud of the 80.8 percent of high school seniors with postsecondary plans compared to the Indiana average of 76.1 percent.

Some of the academic improvement initiatives include the entire corporation beginning the process of curriculum mapping. There is on-going grade level and department level mapping, the goal is to develop corporation wide and building level maps for grades Kindergarten-12 in mathematics and language arts before fall of 2010, with social studies and science mapping completion by fall 2011.

"An (RTI) leadership team comprised of teachers, parents, administration and support staff has been appointed to create a district wide implementation plan for (RTI)," Tucker said. "This plan will specifically develop intervening instructional strategies and assessments for high performing, under challenged students as well as struggling students."

Several of the elementary schools have already begun to pilot the RTI or similar programs. Differentiated Instruction will also continue to be used at all levels.

"All teachers have received training in Differentiated Instruction and will continue to receive advanced training and on-going coaching in the classroom," she said. "Differentiated Instruction is the cornerstone to an effective (RTI) Program at every grade level and every subject area."

Though data is being analyzed every day, it is life after graduation for the students that also weigh on Knust's mind.

For students who have decided against pursuing a postsecondary education, she believes CCSC should continue develop and meet the needs of those students.

"We must continue to update and expand our adult life and career preparation programs for students that elect to enter the workforce upon graduation," she said.

"As a member of a community that has high unemployment rates and ranks far below state average regarding household income, I am very proud of the amount of scholarship money we as a community are able to generate each year for our students," she added. "However, I fear those who are not receiving financial support struggle in their attempt to graduate from a college or university."

By the numbers

The percentage results for the Clay Community School Corporation for the spring 2008-09 ISTEP+

Clay Community Schools -- Enrollment -- 4,573

2008-09SpringEnglish/LA 68.6State Average 70.8
2008-09Spring math 73.1State Average 72

By the numbers

2008-09 Spring ISTEP+ percentage results for schools within the Clay Community School Corporation, students in grades 3-8 took the test. The numbers below include enrollments and 2008-09 Spring E/LA and math scores based on percentage:

Clay City Elementary (395) -- 75.4
Clay City Jr./Sr. High School (426) -- 61.3
East Side Elementary (272) -- 66.9

Forest Park Elementary (313) -- 77.9

Jackson Township Elementary (329) -- 83.6

Meridian Elementary (287) -- 67.7

North Clay Middle School (888) -- 65.6

Staunton Elementary (287) -- 85.4

Van Buren Elementary (226) -- 77.6

State Average -- 71.4 (all grades tested)

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on thebraziltimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

There are several questions citizens need to ask in light of these numbers?

1] Why are the Northview HS scores missing?

2] Where are we as a state falling compared to the national average [as all of these individual state tests are created by just a few companies with different names]?

3]If Jackson's language scores are pulled out, how much higher or lower are they than the other elementary schools and why do they use a different language curriculum than the others if it isn't getting equal results? Especially when it costs the student more in book rental/fees than at the other schools.

4]Where do other Indiana counties without a county supported public library fall? Above or below us? As there is a direct connection I feel between the support of a library and the community's literacy rate.

5]How many of you readers care enough about the education and general economic welfare of our community to ask these questions of our school corporation instead of thinking that someone else is going to? [because too few are to cause any real change]

For our community to gain value, investment has to be made just like any other investment. Education is the very best investment one can make. Not only does it increase the worth of the individual as an employee, a good quality educational system increases that land values as more people want to live where there are excellent schools. Ever wonder why the same sized house and yard sells for up to 30% more in Vigo county than in Clay??? A lot of the reason is the quality of the schools.

Look at what they are doing and look at what we are here. Vigo is closing schools that are underutilized and too old to maintain. We are adding more physical plant to maintain.


-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Oct 5, 2009, at 9:53 AM


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-- Posted by barry51 on Mon, Oct 5, 2009, at 1:54 PM

So, why aren't we taking all the steps we can to reduce costs so that we can target the classroom instead of frills?

I really loved the headline! Isn't golf where "par" came into use and isn't golf a game played for recreation?

I also love the excuse given that we are fighting risk factors and poverty. But, gee, we know that going in. What are we doing about it? Why haven't we driven down the teacher - student ration in K thru 3rd grades that has helped so many children elsewhere? Oh, sorry, this IS Clay County, Indiana, where everyone is too blind to see what is happening and believes all of the tripe put out by the school corporation that proves they are doing the job! Poppycock!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, Oct 5, 2009, at 2:48 PM


Take note that though this article appears on front page of the paper it has already been removed from the on line version.

The scores are not even on par. They are BELOW the state average. Were they hoping that readers didn't understand that the average in the state was higher so that means we are BELOW average. On par would mean that we were at least at average.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Oct 5, 2009, at 7:42 PM

LOL.......Jenny, I thought that a bit odd, too, but I think that that was just the headline. I didn't see a quote where a school official said that. According to the DOE report, there are many schools in the same demographics that are doing better than we are by several percentage points. We may be working hard, but others are obviously working smarter.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Tue, Oct 6, 2009, at 12:42 AM

For months we've all had to listen to the pompous comments of how Clay County residents are of a lesser intelligence and don't care about whatever because we don't care. I've wanted to reply several times (knowing that many of my fellow neighbors do care a great deal), but didn't, not knowing exactly what to say without being mean.

Well HALLELUJAH, today is the day.

WELCOME to Clay County Jenny (and Leo?)!

#1 Why isn't NHS numbers included in the story? Put your higher than average intelligence to good use for once and READ THE DARN STORY JENNY! Geesh, only grades 3-8 are counted in the testing process. I've lived here my entire life, and I caught that one!

#2 "Take note that though this article appears on front page of the paper it has already been removed from the on line version," posted by Jenny as a response to Leo.

UM, I could be too uneducated for this thought process, but let me give it a good try and see if I can point out the OBVIOUS!

IF THE STORY WAS DELETED -- as you two say -- explain to me how on earth you two ding-dongs are posting comments on the ONLINE VERSION?

You both have become what you have protested the most about, Negative Nellies.

After reading your posts on this particular story, it is the necessary confirmation you have been assimilated into the "blind to the issue uneducated, poor masses" who reside within our county boundaries.

All hail the new QUEEN and KING of the uneducated masses!! OR ARE YOU THE COURT JESTERS?

-- Posted by Cy on Tue, Oct 6, 2009, at 5:04 PM

Amen Cy!

-- Posted by Anodos on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 8:26 AM

Double Amen Cy!

-- Posted by ugotitdude on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 10:02 AM

The ISTEP+ pass rate for Northview for 2008 -- 2009 FOR Northview was 67.3%. Why shouldn't a resident of this corporation be concerned when the state average was 73.7%.

The high school students were tested, why shouldn't people be concerned about seeing the results? Those results are the yardstick by which progress is measured and, frankly, it doesn't look like it is going up. How can improvement be made when all you hear from the school corporation are excuses that it is the population that they have to work with? Other school corporations have much the same population factors, yet MANY of THEM have higher pass rates. Check out the Indiana Department of Education website the way that I have. Our school officials know this, they know what the caliber of students they receive starting school every year, and how much improvement those students will need to get a high school diploma. Yet they insist on spending more money than is needed to support our schools on everything EXCEPT classroom instruction.

That is one problem that we have in the Clay Community Schools Corporation. Another is the willingness of the population to accept the statements made by school corporation officials or quoted and printed in the paper as base fact. I hate to have to be the one tell you, but it isn't so. You have to look beyond what is said, quoted, and printed to get the real fact. I state it that way because not everything said is quoted in print, so qualified statements are sometimes quoted in such a way that they look like statements. However, it is still the responsibility of the individual to check facts before forming an opinion.

To my detractors, all I will say is that I'm willing to discuss facts, not baseless opinion, anywhere and at anytime on the state of our education system; but only after you have educated yourself on those facts as I have an aversion to debating with a totally unprepared opponent. It is a waste of my time when I have to start schooling them at the preschool level and I don't have that much time.

Perhaps it is the Clay County syndrome of burying your head in the sand that shoves this to the back burner in many people's mind, but it looks like my family is going to be in this area in the future and I would like them and all other students to have the educational opportunities to qualify for jobs other than flippin' burgers.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 1:48 PM

Cy - you might want to READ Jenny's post again. She stated that the article was "removed" not "deleted". It was removed from prominence on the website as it was no longer on the "front" page but, obviously, it was not deleted.

When you quote someone, it helps if you quote them without putting your "spin" on their words.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 1:54 PM


To remove is to delete, as delete is to remove, of which both mean to get rid of... so the question of my "spin" on words becomes moot. A debate of semasiology is not the point of my post.

AGAIN, pointing out the OBVIOUS using my limited knowledge (which was taught in part by the local school corporation, and the rest by family members): Any Internet savvy individual "should know" when information is posted on a website, the older information is usually moved down in the list.

As for prominence of the article, how about "you" reread her post:

"Take note that though this article appears on front page of the paper it has already been removed from the on line version."

I'm sorry Leo, maybe I need a new set of eyes, but I'm not seeing your point in that particular sentence. Why, it's not there!

Anyway, according to the inane diatribes by more than one commenter on this website, those living in the (albeit insinuated) "moronic social elite" of Clay County (who apparently bury their heads in the sand and don't have the right priorities in mind or care that there will be a future generation of burger flippers) should probably graciously offer up a chance to "sup" and find mutual forgiveness over a bag of generic potato chips and some canned cheese.

Sorry, but when it comes to this point, I love my Lay's Potato Chips and I'm lactose intolerant!

-- Posted by Cy on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 4:40 PM


Beginning with last year's freshmen class the ISTEP test was replaced by the core 40 end of course exams. The sophomores still took the test in the fall last year. The only high school students to take the test in the spring were the Juniors and Seniors who have not yet passed the ISTEP. They are grandfathered in, so they still take the ISTEP, but high school students no longer take the ISTEP test en masse. The article clearly was reporting ISTEP scores from the spring. I suppose they could have included the ISTEP result for the retesters, but these almost never get reported. Actually, I think these results should be reported. They should be added to the previous scores. Of course, this does not help your argument.

-- Posted by Anodos on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 6:54 PM


Please try educating yourself better on the facts. I hate debating an unprepared opponent. It is a waste of my time.

-- Posted by Anodos on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 7:07 PM

LOL.....Cy...... I concede and will eat crow on the fact that, by dictionary definition, "remove" and "delete" do indeed mean the same. However, "removed from the front page" or "remove from prominence" is not the same as "delete". To insinuate the meaning of Jenny's statement meant that the article "disappeared" as in, "was deleted" when she meant, "was removed from its prominent position to a lesser position" is the work of a spin-doctor in a poor attempt to make a person out to be a fool. I, too, am a product of the Clay Community Schools Corporation, with a bit of experience beyond the county lines of Clay County. One thing that I learned, in school and out, was to read with comprehension and to write my ideas with as much clear meaning as I possibly can.

Personally, I find your comments to be made in the meanest spirit.

Why the article was moved so rapidly, I do not know. It could have been standard operating procedure that is on an automatic schedule without any intent or human interaction, for all I know.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:13 PM

Thank you, Anados, for reminding me in the changes to the testing cycle. I had been informed of them, but forgot about them due to an emotional state caused by harsh words that I should have ignored. You are right, the ISTEP has been replaced at the high-school level.

LOL, it was totally fitting and proper that you turned my own words against me in your post. I admit that I fouled up and didn't research quite enough. My, my, crow is tasty once you get beyond the feathers....LOL!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Oct 8, 2009, at 10:19 PM

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